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Last Updated: Friday, 24 December, 2004, 10:17 GMT
Pakistan releases jailed US actor
Bill Richardson
The release followed an appeal by Governor Bill Richardson
A Hollywood actor jailed two years ago in Pakistan for possessing opium has been released.

Erik Anthony Aude, 24, from California, was freed on Thursday from a jail in Rawalpindi, prison officials said.

He had been arrested at Islamabad airport in February 2002 trying to leave for Dubai and was later sentenced to seven years in jail.

Aude, who had a role in the film Dude, Where's My Car?, said he had no idea the drugs were in his luggage.

His release followed an appeal by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

The governor's spokesman, Billy Sparks, told the AFP news agency: "Erik Aude's mother called me to say her son had been released earlier today (Thursday) and to thank Governor Richardson."


Aude was found to be carrying 3.6kg of opium in his suitcase but has always protested his innocence. He was convicted in January 2003.

An official at the Adiyala jail in Rawalpindi, said: "We received a new order from a court about his release and we freed him."

It is not clear whether Aude has yet left Pakistan.

Governor Richardson said he had intervened in a case that was "truly a miscarriage of justice".

He had appealed to Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz after meeting Aude's mother.

"I am especially happy for Erik's mother. Her nightmare is over and her son is coming home for Christmas," Governor Richardson said.

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